I went for a walk yesterday on a path in my neighborhood. It’s one of my most frequent forms of exercise, and can be a bit like meditation for me as well. Steve had been out for a run (that itself is frustrating and may have put me in a slightly “off” mood – I can only walk now!) and he overtook me just before we both would have gotten home. As we walked together, he gave me an update on a neighbor and friend who had suffered a brain bleed stroke about 3 months ago. Fortunately she was taken to the hospital immediately by a friend when she came down with a splitting headache during an exercise class. It appears that her friends quick reaction, good medical care at Stanford Hospital and incredible support from family and friends, appear to have her on a path to a complete recovery with no meaningful residual effects! No loss of speech or mobility. No speech disorder. Her headaches, which had been extremely severe seem to be all but gone. She is still suffering from a bit of “early fatigue”, but indications are that too will pass. Of course I am thrilled for her!!! But I also couldn’t help thinking “why not me?” I’ve been at this for 8 years and I still walk with a limp, can’t use my right arm, and most frustrating of all, still have significant aphasia that makes it impossible for me to hold normal conversations and a return to work that I love. I was angry. Not at my friend, but at my situation. I felt terrible that I couldn’t just enjoy her good fortune – full stop.
I’ve always worn my emotions on my sleeve, and Steve pretty much saw all of that thinking in my face. He’s gotten very good at getting me to say these things out loud. He forced me through my anger and we talked about it. It really helped. I still may struggle doing it, but I know it’s much healthier for me to talk about these things than to keep conflicting and stressful thoughts inside. And of course our conversation reminded me that for every person who is luckier than me in the stroke disability spectrum, there are others who are way less lucky. In so many ways.
So we walked, we talked, and returned home to keep working on my book.